MIAMI - With holiday gift buying kicking off with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, beware of scammers.
"Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the year, which makes it an opportune time for scammers to take advantage of consumers. Fraudsters are constantly coming up with new ways to pick your pocket, and the only way to combat these bad actors and not become a victim of fraud, is to know the signs of a scam," said the state's CFO Jimmy Patronis in a statement.
So what are the signs?
First off, if a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Be careful of unfamiliar merchants and be extra wary of items listed at prices well below those of other shops. The ultimate bargain may really be bogus or stolen goods.
Be careful of credit and coupon offers. Those last-minute deals that offer discounts in exchange for opening up a new credit account can be a trap to make you divulge financial information.
Use a credit card instead of cash or debit. Credit cards offer consumer protection if things go wrong with a purchase.
And finally, watch your account balances. Monitor your checking, savings, credit, and any others for unauthorized charges or deposits. Report any suspicious activity immediately.
Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried said the holidays can be can stressful enough, without having your information stolen.
She said when shopping online, verify that the site is secure. Before entering your payment information, verify that the website address begins with "https." The "s" stands for "secure" and means that your information is encrypted before it is transmitted.
Also, look for reviews about the company selling the product. Read information about the company's reputation and customer service. Don't rely on just one source for information.
Take a few minutes to compare products. Type the product name into a search engine along with words like "review," "complaint," or "scam." Read online reviews from other people who bought the item or from product experts. Look for feedback about how the product works and its overall quality.
If you have a problem with an online purchase or charge, first try to resolve the issue directly with the seller. If unable to come to a resolution, file a complaint at FloridaConsumerHelp.com or call 1-800-HELP-FLA.
This year, Black Friday consumers are expected to spend $205 on average, up from $190 in 2021, while Cyber Monday consumers are expected to spend $218 on average, up from $175 last year.
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